7 things that make parenting a school kid harder than a daycare kid

Kinderling News & Features

Next year is a big one in our house because we transition from daycare to 'big school'.

Most of the time I feel pretty relaxed about what lies ahead - our little boy is social, and fast out-growing his daycare days. So ... easy peasy, right?

Wrong. At least according to Jamie Agins Lincow, who wrote in a recent article for Working Mother Magazine that the daycare to school transition is “exhausting”. 

“After all, the school had just about anything that my little one could possibly need, from changes of clothes to extra food and even resting mats and blankets. Once my oldest entered kindergarten, though, that’s when the exhaustion really set in.”


As Kinderling’s meditation guru Amy Taylor Kabbaz told me recently, for some reason we don’t ever acknowledge how big a transition school is for families, and the load falls mostly on the mother. 

“It’s a huge transition. When your kids are in daycare, you can just drop  them off and everything is taken care of. Once you’re at school, that flies out the window - there is so much more to stay on top of and be part of.”

Organisation is the answer

As a mother to three school-aged kids, Jamie Agins Lincow relies on an old-school, handwritten calendar on a noticeboard in the kitchen, and several reminders in her phone. And when both those methods fail, she just “blames Daddy!” for forgotten library books or sports shoes.

But what else do we need to be mindful of?

What follows is some feedback from seven seasoned school parents on the hardest parts of the daycare-to-big-school transition:

1. No more 6pm pick up!

“A big shift for me was not having the luxury of 6pm pickup. Suddenly, school's finishing at 3pm and you have to get really organised with after-school care, etc. Which can be costly, and hard to get a place in. And it's a very long day for them after a big day of 'big school' learning and activities.”

Listen to Kinderling Conversation

2. Homework

"Suddenly, you get home and have to cram homework into a busy family schedule of eating-bathing-family-time, etc. It's hard to give it the proper time and effort and not rush it. Hard, too, when your kid is exhausted from school and the before/after school stuff."

3. Early mornings, early afternoons

“The change in times -  mine was definitely the change in times. Later starts to the mornings and earlier finishing - adding another level of organisation and financial considerations into the already tightly-run plan."

4. Food, food, food

“Every night food prep! My biggest adjustment was the food preparation EVERY NIGHT (daycare provided it previously). And uniform washing. It's like you are suddenly in the army."

5. The mental load increases

“You worry about your children’s ability to make new friends. Then there’s demand on them to concentrate more and be more independent, too. School lunches, spare clothes, permission forms for this, that and the other. It never ends!”

6. School holidays

“We have two months to figure out at Christmas! Extended family are a godsend for this period. Ditto making a group of friends through school of fellow working parents who can divvy up the child-minding on work days!”

7. Scheduling

“You suddenly have different activities requiring different footwear on different days. I would say yes, absolutely, you need to be organised and stay on top of requirements.”  

Anyone else worn out yet? Only time will tell how I'll manage all these things, but it's good to know I won't be alone.